ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Thursday turned down former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s petition seeking suspension of his sentence in Al-Azizia reference and release on bail on medical grounds.

A division bench of the IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani conducted hearing of the fresh petition moved by Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris Advocate seeking bail in the Al-Azizia case on medical grounds and rejected the same after hearing arguments of both the sides.

During the hearing, Khawaja Haris stated before the court that Nawaz was seeking suspension of sentence on health grounds as over 60 percent health condition of the former premier is in danger.

Sharif’s lawyer adopted that his client needed further treatment [outside jail], which was essential to reduce the mental stress he was facing in jail. The counsel said the former premier could not be treated in Pakistan, adding his health was deteriorating owing to his heart ailments as well as diabetes. He said Nawaz needs an attendant round the clock to ensure that his blood sugar level remains normal.

Referring to previous relief to Sharif when he was released for six weeks on health grounds by the Supreme Court, Haris said medical tests were carried out during the period. He said the diseases have been diagnosed and now his client needs treatment.

Nawaz’s lawyer said many new diseases had been diagnosed during six weeks bail of his client granted by the top court. He said 60 percent right side blood vessel and 30 percent of left side of his client had been blocked.

He said there was need of urgent placement of stents in heart of Nawaz Sharif to avoid any possible cardiac arrest.

At this, Justice Farooq remarked there were very skilled doctors in the country and several Pakistani doctors are working abroad. Haris responded with an example saying the Pakistani side plays aggressively against others and feel pressure when they face India.

Justice Kayani remarked it seemed the patient has no concerns over being treated in Pakistan but doctors are avoiding responsibility.

Haris mentioned that courts had provided bail to PPP’s Dr Asim Hussain, former president Pervez Musharraf and others on medical grounds as well.

Opposing Haris’ arguments, NAB prosecutor contended that Nawaz had already been given six weeks for medical treatment. He added the relief was given for treatment and not for lab tests only.

After hearing the arguments, the IHC bench reserved its verdict which was later announced by rejecting the bail plea.

The former prime minister in his petition cited the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman, judge accountability court-II Islamabad and Kot Lakhpat Jail superintendent as respondents.

Sharif stated that the AC convicted him in reference No 19/2017 under section 10 of NAO, 1999 for a term of seven years along with fine of Rs1.5 billion. He added that against the aforesaid conviction and sentence, the petitioner had filed an appeal before this court and the same is now fixed for June 19 awaiting preparation of paper books of the trial proceedings.

“During the pendency of the afore-noted Criminal Appeal No 1/2019, the petitioner had initially applied for the suspension of his sentence and bail by filing writ petition No 32/2019 on 15-1-2019. However, later, on 26-1-2019, he filed another writ petition No 352-B/2019 for the suspension of his sentence and his release on bail on medical grounds and thereafter, on 6-2-2019, applied for withdrawal of his earlier petition No 32/2019 pursuant to which prayer for withdrawal was allowed on 12-2-2019.

He mentioned that subsequent to the release of the petitioner on bail on Supreme Court order dated 26-3-2019, he underwent multiple medical tests to ascertain the exact and precise extent and pervasiveness of the maladies from which he was suffering as necessitated before commencement of treatment. He said that after his medical tests, it was transpired that his health had considerably “deteriorated” since his last medical check-up by the special medical boards constituted by the government of Punjab and accordingly, the treatment required for the petitioner was also much more complicated and extensive than it was at the time when the aforementioned special medical boards had examined.

Sharif’s counsel contended that his client’s life is under threat owing to his fast deteriorating health. He quoted doctors as saying Sharif’s treatment is impossible inside prison. He also submitted the medical reports of Sharif along with the petition.

According to the medical reports, doctors have said that Sharif’s condition is quite critical. The doctors have also claimed that Nawaz is suffering from numerous diseases that can prove to be threatening to the incarcerated former PM’s life.

The recommendations of the specialist doctors hailing from the United Kingdom and the United States have also been attached with the plea.

The petition said quoting the doctors that Nawaz is facing life threats owing to his worsening health and his treatment is not possible in the prison while Sharif wanted to get himself treated abroad from the same doctors who treated him in the past.

The petition maintained that political opponents are making propaganda that the petitioner, in seeking bail on medical grounds for this treatment abroad, is actually seeking for a “NRO”, is not only tantamount to contempt of court, it is also malicious and false to the knowledge of such politicians and TV anchors and stands comprehensively refuted by the past conduct of the petitioner.

Therefore, he prayed to the court to suspend the sentence awarded to him by the judge of accountability court and to release him on bail pending final decision of his appeal against the said conviction and sentence, on such terms and conditions as are deemed to be just and fair in the facts and circumstances mentioned in the instant petition.